Not to be confused with Washington, D.C., the capital of the U.S., this beautiful Pacific Northwest state is exceptionally beautiful, green, outdoor friendly, eco-friendly, and has a great music scene. Being the birth of grunge music from the 90's, much of the live music is concentrated in the capital city of Seattle. Around the state you have the ocean, mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers. Great place to visit, especially Seattle, and there are a few hidden gems you may not have heard of.

My Favorites

1. Seattle

Mt. Rainier

Highlights: City, mountains, nature, music, coffee, tech companies
Suggest Staying: 3-7 days
Stay Around: Belltown/Capitol Hill (more central) or Ballard (more chill)
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Seattle is a great city, full of vibrancy, live music, food, culture, and healthy environmentally conscious people. There is such a rich rock history including Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains just to name a few of my favorites. I had the good fortune to visit the first time during Bumbershoot for that festival which was then also bookended with Alice In Chains and Velvet Revolver in one show and then Muse in another at Key Arena. Over the course of a 10-day trip, I saw 7 days of incredible music!

Since the early 2000s, tech companies (and Starbucks) have dominated the landscape, causing considerable growth and change over the past decade or so. But it’s still a hip city at it’s core. From this expansion, neighborhoods and cities outside of Seattle have grown as well. I’ve only spent any reasonable amount of time in the Seattle area, but there are many sites to see within close proximity, of which even reach as far as to include Vancouver and Portland.

See & Do

  • Pike Place Market. Fish market where there are people actually throwing whole fish around. Also other foods, snack, and treats. Try some apples, there are a variety of different kinds. Honeycrisp especially when in season.
  • Belltown. Neighborhood centrally located.
  • Ballard. Chill, hip neighborhood.
  • Bellevue. Fancy city just outside Seattle.
  • Kirkland. Nice residential city.
  • Redmond. Microsoft campus.
  • Bumbershoot. Annual multi-day music festival. I had such a blast the first year I went which was quite some time ago now. See bands before they become big in a mix of small intimate venues and outdoor pavilions around the city.
  • The Gorge. One of my favorite all time music venues. It’s an outdoor ampitheater where your view over the stage overlooks a massive…wait for it…yes gorge! It’s unreal.
  • Steepologie Teas. Tea.

For The Outdoor Enthusiast

  • Olympic National Park.
  • Mt. Rainier. (White Pass scenic byway 46 miles 1 hour driving, skiing)
  • REI Flagship Store. (downtown Seattle, has a cafe and outdoor track for testing bikes)

2. Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan

Highlights: Lake
Suggest Staying: 1-2 days
Stay Around: Chelan (Apple Inn Motel)
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I heard about this place from another traveler while visiting Mammoth Cave National Park. Seems to be a vacation spot for a lot of people in Washington. I’m not big into boating but I love lakes and scenery. This lake is quite large and nestled in the mountains. Great place to get away and relax.

3. Leavenworth


Highlights: Town
Suggest Staying: 1 day
Stay Around: Town center
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I stumbled upon this neat little Bavarian (German) themed town on a road trip through the state and when I reached Seattle, was told by many people there it was a great town to visit. Wish it hadn’t been pouring as I drove through.

4. Spokane

I only spent maybe half a day here, but it seems to have a history to it. Pretty raw, but some decent food options. I imagine there is live music around and think I even saw some comedy clubs. It's a good stopover if you're looking for a city on the way from Montana or Wyoming (like from Yellowstone) en route to Seattle.

General Tips

  • Weather. While in Seattle it rarely if ever snows, Washington State as a whole is pretty far north and the farther inland you get, the more mountainous and higher in elevation. So check the weather and for road closures if visiting late fall, winter, or early spring. The Pacific Northwest closer to the coast has the (accurate) reputation of being quite dreary and gray most of the year, though there are of course nice days. Summers are beautiful and pleasant.

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